MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A local non-profit that works with teens may be forced to close its doors this month. Myrtle Beach's Project Lighthouse is out of funding, and is looking to the community for answers.
Tuesday is Giving Tuesday, but people who run Project Lighthouse want you to think of this as the "giving season." They are seeking a way to stay open to keep helping teens who are out of other options.
"It's definitely a serious situation," explained Christina Jackson, the Executive Director of Sea Haven, of which Project Lighthouse is a branch.
Sea Haven's numerous programs help homeless or at-risk youth. "Project Lighthouse is a drop-in center for emergency services. There are laundry and shower facilities, emergency food, survival gear which could be rain coats, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, and emergency food. We have a food pantry where they can come in and get food," Jackson explained.
A lifeline for teens on the streets, many times because of abuse, neglect or problems at home. But the center that gives them emergency help is in jeopardy.
"The funding we have will end in December," Jackson said. "And after that, there is no more funding to keep that program open."
Federal funding kept Project Lighthouse running for 13 years. Sea Haven had to match a small percentage of the funding. But Jackson said last year, far fewer non-profits received the federal funding, and Project Lighthouse wasn't one of them.
"We are the only nonprofit in Horry County that provides a specific service for homeless, at risk struggling youth in the community ages 13-21. There are no other drop-in centers in South Carolina," Jackson said.
A private foundation stepped in last year and provided funding for the whole year, but that funding has run out. Jackson said she's meeting with that foundation to talk about the future of Project Lighthouse this week.
The center doesn't just support teens with no place to go, it also employs two full-time staff members and gives internships to students attending Coastal Carolina University and Horry Georgetown Technical College.
"Giving Tuesday is a known campaign for nonprofit's for people to donate money," Jackson explained. "And so we just kind of changed it up a bit with November being the holidays and December and decided to call it the 'giving season.' We're just asking people to please step up and support Project Lighthouse."
If no one does, the doors will permanently close by the end of December. People will lose their jobs, and teens will have no place to turn.
If you'd like to donate or get involved with fundraising efforts, visit this page: https://www.facebook.com/seahavenprojectlighthouse/app_163344180379236.